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Colorado Homeless Study

The Colorado Department of Public Safety recently released a study conducted by Eris Enterprise to look at the impact of homeless populations in seven jails across the State of Colorado.  This year long study was a first of its kind and involved researchers going into the jails to conduct surveys with the inmates directly. The homelessness data collected was analyzed and results published to the State of Colorado public web site.

“This study helps us better understand what is happening with homeless in Colorado’s jails. What we’ve learned is that homeless individuals have been coming to Colorado since before legalization of marijuana, driven by a combination of push and pull factors. They are fleeing problems and coming here for family, jobs, friends, and, in some cases, for legal marijuana. The findings also underscore we already know: that Colorado’s jails already have far too many people in them with mental health and substance abuse issues. That’s why efforts to address mental health and substance abuse issues remain a top focus in our state and nationwide.”

-Stan Hilkey, Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety

Report highlights include


  • 62% of the sample moved to Colorado from other states; of those who came from other states, 59% moved to Colorado before legalization in 2012.
  • The most common states of origin for homeless inmates were California, Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, and New Mexico.
  • Among the 77 homeless inmates who moved to Colorado after marijuana was legalized in 2012, top reasons cited for moving to Colorado were:
    1. Getting away from a problem (44.2%)
    2. Family (38.9%)
    3. Marijuana (legal and medical) (35.1%)
    4. Employment (24.1%)
  • The most common reasons non-native homeless inmates said they stay in Colorado were:
    1. Family (31.1%)
    2. Outdoor activities (28.3%)
    3. Friends (26.6%)
    4. Employment (24.1%)
      Marijuana is the sixth most common reason, with 18.5% reporting that as a reason they stay in Colorado.
Full Report

Eris Admin